The Nutcracker is getting a makeover this holiday season, as Tchaikovsky’s classic is reworked for a gender bent cast as The Hard Nut playing at Seattle Paramount. Featuring the Mark Morris Dance Group with men and women in gender blind roles, this twist on the famous show is sure to leave you impressed and giggling.
The Hard Nut is not your average Nutcracker retread. This production takes the story from the straight-laced 1890s to the swinging 1960s with raucous parties, dancing G.I. Joes, and whimsical costumes, as well as a “Waltz of the Snowflakes” and “Waltz of the Flowers” like no other, featuring men and women dancing the same parts in the same costumes.
The show takes its title from the story-within-a-story of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, wherein an evil Rat Queen promises to restore the Princess Pirlipat’s beauty if a young man can crack the “hard nut” with his teeth.
This mix of playfulness and exquisite dance, combined with the greatest respect for Hoffmann’s original nightmarish story and Tchaikovsky’s complete, original score, performed by a full live orchestra, earned The Hard Nut the winning spot in Ovation TV’s Battle of the Nutcrackers contest three years running.
Despite starring several Seattle natives and being around for almost thirty years, the show has never seen a production in Seattle. That changes now, as the Seattle Theatre Group presents this extraordinary alternate version of one of the most famous ballets of all time. Changing the setting to mid 20th century Americana along with assigning men to female roles makes this rendition both distinct and hilarious.
The Nutcracker is well known for its music by Tchaikovsky, but anybody who’s seen it performed knows that the dancing is its perfect compliment. The prestigious Mark Morris Dance Group does justice here to the beautiful music.
By casting men in drag as many of the women in the show, you’d be expected to be skeptical of their ability to recapture that style of dance. But you need not be worried, every dancer is extraordinary and the choreography by Mark Morris Dance Group is terrific.
A fantastic spectacle of music and dance and fun for the entire family, The Hard Nut is just what any Nutcracker fan should see, especially if they’re looking for a fun twist. Tickets are on sale now and start at $35, and the production runs through Dec. 15 at The Paramount Theatre.